GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 25 June) – The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 is seeking the national government’s intervention over the rising incidence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually-transmitted infections in the region.
In a resolution, the council’s Regional Social Development Committee (RSDC) specifically called for support and appropriate actions over the matter from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board’s Social Development Committee (SDC).
Arturo Valero, RDC-12 acting chairperson, said they elevated the matter to the NEDA Board to generate support from various government agencies in addressing the problem.
He mainly cited the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Budget and Management and other concerned agencies at the national level.
“We’re raising this concern considering that preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is one of the Millennium Development Goals that our country is hoping to achieve,” he said in a statement.
The NEDA Board’s SDC is one of its committees that meet semi-annually to deliberate and address social development issues that need the support or action by national line agencies and departments.
In terms of the region’s HIV/AIDS situation, the council is specifically concerned with the increasing cases in South Cotabato province.
Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said they already recorded a total of 254 HIV/AIDS cases in the area as of the first quarter of the year.
“Males having sex with other males is the predominant mode of transmission of the infections and a few are caused by needle sharing among injecting drug users,” he said.
He said the detection rate in the province has been increasing due to the rising awareness about the disease among local residents.
The official said it is important for HIV/AIDS to be detected early to facilitate earlier treatments.
“As the IPHO continues in its detection drive or case finding, it is expected that the number of recorded cases in the province will increase in the next few months,” he said.
Aturdido said there’s a need for the DOH to establish a treatment hub in the region to facilitate the immediate treatment of confirmed HIV/AIDS cases.
HIV/AIDS patients in the region currently receive treatment at the DOH-run Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
Dr. Francisco Mateo, DOH-12 acting assistant regional director, affirmed the increasing case detection rate for HIV/AIDS in the entire region.
But he failed to cite the exact figures, noting that they are still building up their database and some provinces and cities in the area have yet to complete their submitted data.
“It is true that more individuals are now subjecting themselves to the free HIV/AIDS tests being offered by the DOH and more HIV-positive individuals are coming out in the open and serving as advocates for HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention drives,” he said.